SUPER COOPER TO START TOUR OF SOUTHLAND IN YELLOW
The 2015 SBS Bank Tour of Southland will get underway tomorrow with the yellow jersey sitting on a set of familiar shoulders.
Wellington’s Joe Cooper will wear the tour leader’s shirt for the third time heading into the opening stage of New Zealand’s most prestigious stage race after his Avanti Racing Team dominated the team time trial prologue around Invercargill’s Queens Park this afternoon.
The defending champions made an early statement with a 4min 51sec lap of the 4.2km circuit in fine, but windy, conditions.
Kia Motors-Ascot Park placed second with a 4:56 and PowerNet were third in 4:59.
“It’s always good to get this one out of the way and open up the legs before tomorrow’s longer stage out to Lumsden,” Cooper said.
“The team rode really well together, I don’t think anyone missed a turn or shucked their load of the work. We were a well-oiled machine.”
Cooper, whose Avanti teammate Mitchell Lovelock-Fay has returned to defend his title, has no problems with being the rider to watch from the outset.
“I’ve worn [the yellow jersey] for the last three years now for this stage. I’ll be happy to pass it onto a teammate.”
Tomorrow’s Southland District Council-sponsored opening stage is a 159km beat starting in Invercargill and traversing central and western Southland before finishing in Lumsden.
Regan Gough (Avanti Racing Team) will wear the Henderson Construction under 23 jersey, while his world team pursuit champion teammate Pieter Bulling (Kia Motors-Ascot Park) will wear the Harcourt sprint ace shirt.
Dunedin’s Brad Evans (PowerNet) will have the first chance to defend the Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountains jersey, with Christchurch’s Brent Allnutt (Placemakers) in the Stonewood Homes silver jersey for riders 40 and over.
Riverside Rentals prologue: Avanti Racing Team 4:51; Kia Motors-Ascot Park 4:56; PowerNet 4:59; Team Skoda Racing 5:03; Team Mike Greer Homes 5:04; Barry Stewart Builders 5:06; Champion System Team Dallas 5:10; Olivers Real Food Racing 5:11; Creation Signs-L&M Group Ricoh 5:11; Team Cromwell 5:18; Placemakers 5:18; Chesters Racing Team 5:24; Team Talbot Forest Cheese-Ultimo 5:27; Adair Craik 5:34.
Caption: Wellington's Joe Cooper (Avanti Racing Team) will get first use of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland's yellow jersey.
Photo courtesy James Jubb/Envious Photography
Riders face the 158km Stage 1, sponsored by the Southland District Council from Invercargill to Lumsden.